Daniel Rowden, a 23 year old from East London, UK and a disciple of Christ for eight years, won the title of British 800m champion at the British Athletics Championships on September 5, 2020. Many disciples across the UK celebrated as we gathered in front of our devices to watch Daniel race.

While studying Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College London, Daniel’s success came following a challenging time as he battled with median arcuate ligament syndrome (MALS), which resulted in him taking a year out of training following major surgery. This conflicted with the goals he wanted to achieve in 2019, including the European Under 23 Championships and the World Championships in Doha.

“I remember sitting down with the doctor a few weeks before my races were due to start, asking if it would be possible to get the surgery done at the end of the season, so that I could at least compete in one championship,” he said. “The gravity of the situation hit me when he replied that, rather than thinking of racing, I shouldn’t even be training. Obviously the surgery and recovery were painful but it was tough knowing that all I’d worked hard for and dreamed about wouldn’t be realized through no fault of my own.”

However, the surgery and recovering process helped Daniel changed his outlook going into the 2020 season. “I was able to put so much less pressure on myself in training and going into races,” he said, “and just enjoy myself and enjoy the talent that God has given me.”

The 2020 season arrived and Daniel trained hard in order to achieve the goals that he wasn’t able to attain during his break.

On September 5th, the day of the British Athletics Championships, the moment he anticipated for over a year had finally arrived. Daniel said that he felt confident and at peace knowing that all he had to do was his best, thinking of Proverbs 21:31. “I had readied the horse,” he said. “And whether victory came or not was no longer my problem as long as I did my best.”

With glory to God, Daniel’s best was placing first in a stadium record of 1:45.94.

“And that’s a perfectly executed win,” said BBC commentator Steve Cram, as Daniel crossed the 800m finish line just after overpowering his “greatest opponent” Jake Wightman in the last few seconds of the race.

“When I crossed the line, I was just grateful,” said Daniel. “Grateful that God had allowed me to be back racing, and grateful for all I had been through and all that I had learned. My surgery matured me in a big way.”

Please pray for Daniel as he continues in his athletic journey with a hopeful target of the Tokyo Olympics.

Note: Daniel recently placed first again in Zagreb, Croatia in a World Athletics Continental Tour event against world-class athletes, with a new personal best time of 1:44:09.

See the BBC’s recent profile of Daniel here: Meet Daniel Rowden – 2020’s comeback star on faith, fast times and vomiting pizza.